Leonard S. Johnson is the Founder and CEO of AIEDC, a 5G Cloud Mobile App Maker and Service Provider with Machine Learning to help small and midsize businesses create their own iOS and Android mobile apps with no-code or low-code so they can engage and service their customer base, as well as provide front and back office digitization services for small businesses.
Victoria talks to Leonard about using artificial intelligence for good, bringing the power of AI to local economics, and truly democratizing AI.
- The Artificial Intelligence Economic Development Corporation (AIEDC)
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VICTORIA: This is The Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with us today is Leonard S. Johnson or LS, Founder and CEO AIEDC, a 5G Cloud Mobile App Maker and Service Provider with Machine Learning to help small and midsize businesses create their own iOS and Android mobile apps with no-code or low-code so they can engage and service their customer base, as well as provide front and back office digitization services for small businesses. Leonard, thanks for being with us today.
LEONARD: Thank you for having me, Victoria.
VICTORIA: I should say LS, thank you for being with us today.
LEONARD: It's okay. It's fine.
VICTORIA: Great. So tell us a little more about AIEDC.
LEONARD: Well, AIEDC stands for Artificial Intelligence Economic Development Corporation. And the original premise that I founded it for...I founded it after completing my postgraduate work at Stanford, and that was 2016. And it was to use AI for economic development, and therefore use AI for good versus just hearing about artificial intelligence and some of the different movies that either take over the world, and Skynet, and watch data privacy, and these other things which are true, and it's very evident, they exist, and they're out there.
But at the end of the day, I've always looked at life as a growth strategy and the improvement of what we could do and focusing on what we could do practically. You do it tactically, then you do it strategically over time, and you're able to implement things. That's why I think we keep building collectively as humanity, no matter what part of the world you're in.
VICTORIA: Right. So you went to Stanford, and you're from South Central LA. And what about that background led you to pursue AI for good in particular?
LEONARD: So growing up in the inner city of Los Angeles, you know, that South Central area, Compton area, it taught me a lot. And then after that, after I completed high school...and not in South Central because I moved around a lot. I grew up with a single mother, never knew my real father, and then my home life with my single mother wasn't good because of just circumstances all the time.
And so I just started understanding that even as a young kid, you put your brain...you utilize something because you had two choices. It's very simple or binary, you know, A or B. A, you do something with yourself, or B, you go out and be social in a certain neighborhood. And I'm African American, so high probability that you'll end up dead, or in a gang, or in crime because that's what it was at that time. It's just that's just a situation. Or you're able to challenge those energies and put them toward a use that's productive and positive for yourself, and that's what I did, which is utilizing a way to learn.
I could always pick up things when I was very young. And a lot of teachers, my younger teachers, were like, "You're very, very bright," or "You're very smart." And there weren't many programs because I'm older than 42. So there weren't as many programs as there are today. So I really like all of the programs. So I want to clarify the context. Today there's a lot more engagement and identification of kids that might be sharper, smarter, whatever their personal issues are, good or bad. And it's a way to sort of separate them. So you're not just teaching the whole group as a whole and putting them all in one basket, but back then, there was not.
And so I just used to go home a lot, do a lot of reading, do a lot of studying, and just knick-knack with things in tech. And then I just started understanding that even as a young kid in the inner city, you see economics very early, but they don't understand that's really what they're studying. They see economics. They can see inflation because making two ends meet is very difficult. They may see gang violence and drugs or whatever it might end up being. And a lot of that, in my opinion, is always an underlining economic foundation.
And so people would say, "Oh, why is this industry like this?" And so forth. "Why does this keep happening?" It's because they can't function. And sometimes, it's just them and their family, but they can't function because it's an economic system. So I started focusing on that and then went into the Marine Corps. And then, after the Marine Corps, I went to Europe. I lived in Europe for a while to do my undergrad studies in the Netherlands in Holland.
VICTORIA: So having that experience of taking a challenge or taking these forces around you and turning into a force for good, that's led you to bring the power of AI to local economics. And is that the direction that you went eventually?
LEONARD: So economics was always something that I understood and had a fascination prior to even starting my company. I started in 2017. And we're crowdfunding now, and I can get into that later. But I self-funded it since 2017 to...I think I only started crowdfunding when COVID hit, which was 2020, and just to get awareness and people out there because I couldn't go to a lot of events.
So I'm like, okay, how can I get exposure? But yeah, it was a matter of looking at it from that standpoint of economics always factored into me, even when I was in the military when I was in the Marine Corps. I would see that...we would go to different countries, and you could just see the difference of how they lived and survived.
And another side note, my son's mother is from Ethiopia, Africa. And I have a good relationship with my son and his mother, even though we've been apart for over 15 years, divorced for over 15 years or so or longer. But trying to keep that, you can just see this dichotomy. You go out to these different countries, and even in the military, it's just so extreme from the U.S. and any part of the U.S, but that then always focused on economics.
And then technology, I just always kept up with, like, back in the '80s when the mobile brick phone came out, I had to figure out how to get one. [laughs] And then I took it apart and then put it back together just to see how it works, so yeah. But it was a huge one, by the way. I mean, it was like someone got another and broke it, and they thought it was broken. And they're like, "This doesn't work. You could take this piece of junk." I'm like, "Okay." [laughs]
VICTORIA: Like, oh, great. I sure will, yeah. Now, I love technology. And I think a lot of people perceive artificial intelligence as being this super futuristic, potentially harmful, maybe economic negative impact. So what, from your perspective, can AI do for local economics or for people who may not have access to that advanced technology?
LEONARD: Well, that's the key, and that's what we're looking to do with AIEDC. When you look at the small and midsize businesses, it's not what people think, or their perception is. A lot of those in the U.S. it's the backbone of the United States, our economy, literally. And in other parts of the world, it's the same where it could be a one or two mom-and-pop shops. That's where that name comes from; it's literally two people.
And they're trying to start something to build their own life over time because they're using their labor to maybe build wealth or somehow a little bit not. And when I mean wealth, it's always relative. It's enough to sustain themselves or just put food on the table and be able to control their own destiny to the best of their ability.
And so what we're looking to do is make a mobile app maker that's 5G that lives in the cloud, that's 5G compliant, that will allow small and midsize businesses to create their own iOS or Android mobile app with no-code or low-code, basically like creating an email. That's how simple we want it to be. When you create your own email, whether you use Microsoft, Google, or whatever you do, and you make it that simple. And there's a simple version, and there could be complexity added to it if they want. That would be the back office digitization or customization, but that then gets them on board with digitization.
It's intriguing that McKinsey just came out with a report stating that in 2023, in order to be economically viable, and this was very recent, that all companies would need to have a digitization strategy. And so when you look at small businesses, and you look at things like COVID-19, or the COVID current ongoing issue and that disruption, this is global. And you look at even the Ukrainian War or the Russian-Ukrainian War, however you term it, invasion, war, special operation, these are disruptions.
And then, on top of that, we look at climate change which has been accelerating in the last two years more so than it was prior to this that we've experienced. So this is something that everyone can see is self-evident. I'm not even focused on the cause of the problem. My brain and the way I think, and my team, we like to focus on solutions. My chairman is a former program director of NASA who managed 1,200 engineers that built the International Space Station; what was it? 20-30 years ago, however, that is. And he helped lead and build that from Johnson Center.
And so you're focused on solutions because if you're building the International Space Station, you can only focus on solutions and anticipate the problems but not dwell on them. And so that kind of mindset is what I am, and it's looking to help small businesses do that to get them on board with digitization and then in customization. And then beyond that, use our system, which is called M.I.N.D. So we own these...we own patents, three patents, trademarks, and service marks related to artificial intelligence that are in the field of economics.
And we will utilize DEVS...we plan to do that which is a suite of system specifications to predict regional economic issues like the weather in a proactive way, not reactive. A lot of economic situations are reactive. It's reactive to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates or lowering rates, Wall Street, you know, moving money or not moving money. It is what it is. I mean, I don't judge it. I think it's like financial engineering, and that's fine. It's profitability.
But then, at the end of the day, if you're building something, it's like when we're going to go to space. When rockets launch, they have to do what they're intended to do. Like, I know that Blue Origin just blew up recently. Or if they don't, they have a default, and at least I heard that the Blue Origin satellite, if it were carrying passengers, the passengers would have been safe because it disembarked when it detected its own problem.
So when you anticipate these kinds of problems and you apply them to the local small business person, you can help them forecast and predict better like what weather prediction has done. And we're always improving that collectively for weather prediction, especially with climate change, so that it can get to near real-time as soon as possible or close a window versus two weeks out versus two days out as an example.
VICTORIA: Right. Those examples of what you call a narrow economic prediction.
LEONARD: Correct. It is intriguing when you say narrow economic because it wouldn't be narrow AI. But it would actually get into AGI if you added more variables, which we would. The more variables you added in tenancies...so if you're looking at events, the system events discretion so discrete event system specification you would specify what they really, really need to do to have those variables.
But at some point, you're working on a system, what I would call AGI. But AGI, in my mind, the circles I run in at least or at least most of the scientists I talk to it's not artificial superintelligence. And so the general public thinks AGI...and I've said this to Stephen Ibaraki, who's the founder of AI for Good at Global Summit at the United Nations, and one of his interviews as well. It's just Artificial General Intelligence, I think, has been put out a lot by Hollywood and entertainment and so forth, and some scientists say certain things. We won't be at artificial superintelligence.
We might get to Artificial General Intelligence by 2030 easily, in my opinion. But that will be narrow AI, but it will cover what we look at it in the field as cross-domain, teaching a system to look at different variables because right now, it's really narrow. Like natural language processing, it's just going to look at language and infer from there, and then you've got backward propagation that's credit assignment and fraud and detection. Those are narrow data points.
But when you start looking at something cross-domain...who am I thinking of? Pedro Domingos who wrote the Master Algorithm, which actually, Xi Jinping has a copy of, the President of China, on his bookshelf in his office because they've talked about that, and these great minds because Stephen Ibaraki has interviewed these...and the founder of Google Brain and all of these guys.
And so there's always this debate in the scientific community of what is narrow AI what it's not. But at the end of the day, I just like Pedro's definition of it because he says the master algorithm will be combining all five, so you're really crossing domains, which AI hasn't done that. And to me, that will be AGI, but that's not artificial superintelligence. And artificial superintelligence is when it becomes very, you know, like some of the movies could say, if we as humanity just let it run wild, it could be crazy.
VICTORIA: One of my questions is the future of AI more like iRobot or Bicentennial Man?
LEONARD: Well, you know, interesting. That's a great question, Victoria. I see most of AI literally as iRobot, as a tool more than anything, except at the end when it implied...so it kind of did two things in that movie, but a wonderful movie to bring up. And I like Will Smith perfectly. Well, I liked him a lot more before --
VICTORIA: I think iRobot is really the better movie.
LEONARD: Yeah, so if people haven't seen iRobot, I liked Will Smith, the actor. But iRobot showed you two things, and it showed you, one, it showed hope. Literally, the robot...because a lot of people put AI and robots. And AI by itself is the brain or the mind; I should say hardware are the robots or the brain. Software...AI in and of itself is software. It's the mind itself. That's why we have M.I.N.D Machine Intelligence NeuralNetwork Database. We literally have that. That's our acronym and our slogan and everything. And it's part of our patents. But its machine intelligence is M.I.N.D, and we own that, you know; the company owns it.
And so M.I.N.D...we always say AI powered by M.I.N.D. We're talking about that software side of, like, what your mind does; it iterates and thinks, the ability to think itself. Now it's enclosed within a structure called, you know, for the human, it's called a brain, the physical part of it, and that brain is enclosed within the body. So when you look at robots...and my chairman was the key person for robotics for the International Space Station. So when you look at robotics, you are putting that software into hardware, just like your cell phone. You have the physical, and then you have the actual iOS, which is the operating system.
So when you think about that, yeah, iRobot was good because it showed how these can be tools, and they were very, in the beginning of the movie, very helpful, very beneficial to humanity. But then it went to a darker side and showed where V.I.K.I, which was an acronym as well, I think was Virtual Interactive Kinetic technology of something. Yeah, I believe it was Virtual Interactive Kinetic inference or technology or something like that, V.I.K.I; I forgot the last I. But that's what it stood for.
It was an acronym to say...and then V.I.K.I just became all aware and started killing everyone with robots and just wanted to say, you know, this is futile. But then, at the very, very end, V.I.K.I learned from itself and says, "Okay, I guess this isn't right." Or the other robot who could think differently argued with V.I.K.I, and they destroyed her. And it made V.I.K.I a woman in the movie, and then the robot was the guy. But that shows that it can get out of hand.
But it was intriguing to me that they had her contained within one building. This wouldn't be artificial superintelligence. And I think sometimes Hollywood says, "Just take over everything from one building," no. It wouldn't be on earth if it could. But that is something we always have to think about. We have to think about the worst-case scenarios.
I think every prudent scientist or business person or anyone should do that, even investors, I mean, if you're investing something for the future. But you also don't focus on it. You don't think about the best-case scenario, either. But there's a lot of dwelling on the worst-case scenario versus the good that we can do given we're looking at where humanity is today. I mean, we're in 2022, and we're still fighting wars that we fought in 1914.
VICTORIA: Right. Which brings me to my next question, which is both, what are the most exciting opportunities to innovate in the AI space currently? And conversely, what are the biggest challenges that are facing innovation in that field?
LEONARD: Ooh, that's a good question. I think, in my opinion, it's almost the same answer; one is...but I'm in a special field. And I'm surprised there's not a lot of competition for our company. I mean, it's very good for me and the company's sense. It's like when Mark Zuckerberg did Facebook, there was Friendster, and there was Myspace, but they were different. They were different verticals. And I think Mark figured out how to do it horizontally, good or bad. I'm talking about the beginning of when he started Facebook, now called Meta.
But I'm saying utilizing AI in economics because a lot of times AI is used in FinTech and consumerism, but not economic growth where we're really talking about growing something organically, or it's called endogenous growth. Because I studied Paul Romer's work, who won the Nobel Prize in 2018 for economic science. And he talked about the nature of ideas. And we were working on something like that in Stanford.
And I put out a book in 2017 of January talking about cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence but about the utilization of it, but not the speculation. I never talked about speculation. I don't own any crypto; I would not. It's only once it's utilized in its PureTech form will it create something that it was envisioned to do by the protocol that Satoshi Nakamoto sort of created. And it still fascinates me that people follow Bitcoin protocol, even for the tech and the non-tech, but they don't know who Satoshi is.
But yeah, it's a white paper. You're just following a white paper because I think logically, the world is going towards that iteration of evolution. And that's how AI could be utilized for good in an area to focus on it with economics and solving current problems. And then going forward to build a new economy where it's not debt-based driven or consumer purchase only because that leaves a natural imbalance in the current world structure.
The western countries are great. We do okay, and we go up and down. But the emerging and developing countries just get stuck, and they seem to go into a circular loop. And then there are wars as a result of these things and territory fights and so forth. So that's an area I think where it could be more advanced is AI in the economic realm, not so much the consumer FinTech room, which is fine.
But consumer FinTech, in my mind, is you're using AI to process PayPal. That's where I think Elon just iterated later because PayPal is using it for finance. You're just moving things back and forth, and you're just authenticating everything. But then he starts going on to SpaceX next because he's like, well, let me use technology in a different way. And I do think he's using AI on all of his projects now.
VICTORIA: Right. So how can that tech solve real problems today? Do you see anything even particular about Southern California, where we're both at right now, where you think AI could help predict some outcomes for small businesses or that community?
LEONARD: I'm looking to do it regionally then globally. So I'm part of this Southern Cal Innovation Hub, which is just AI. It's an artificial intelligence coordination between literally San Diego County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. And so there's a SoCal Innovation Hub that's kind of bringing it together. But there are all three groups, like; I think the CEO in Orange County is the CEO of Leadership Alliance. And then in San Diego, there's another group I can't remember their name off the top of my head, and I'm talking about the county itself. So each one's representing a county because, you know.
And then there's one in Northern California that I'm also associated with where if you look at California as its own economy in the U.S., it's still pretty significant as an economic cycle in the United States, period. That's why so many politicians like California because they can sway the votes. So yeah, we're looking to do that once, you know, we are raising capital. We're crowdfunding currently. Our total raise is about 6 million. And so we're talking to venture capitalists, private, high net worth investors as well.
Our federal funding is smaller. It's just like several hundred thousand because most people can only invest a few thousand. But I always like to try to give back. If you tell people...if you're Steve Jobs, like, okay, I've got this Apple company. In several years, you'll see the potential. And people are like, ah, whatever, but then they kick themselves 15 years later. [laughs] Like, oh, I wish I thought about that Apple stock for $15 when I could. But you give people a chance, and you get the word out, and you see what happens.
Once you build a system, you share it. There are some open-source projects. But I think the open source, like OpenAI, as an example, Elon Musk funds that as well as Microsoft. They both put a billion dollars into it. It is an open-source project. OpenAI claims...but some of the research does go back to Microsoft to be able to see it. And DeepMind is another research for AI, but they're owned by Google.
And so, I'm also very focused on democratizing artificial intelligence for the benefit of everyone. I really believe that needs to be democratized in a sense of tying it to economics and making it utilized for everyone that may need it for the benefit of humanity where it's profitable and makes money, but it's not just usurping.
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VICTORIA: With that democratizing it, is there also a need to increase the understanding of the ethics around it and when there are certain known use cases for AI where it actually is discriminatory and plays to systemic problems in our society? Are you familiar with that as well?
LEONARD: Yes, absolutely. Well, that's my whole point. And, Victoria, you just hit the nail on the head. Truly democratizing AI in my mind and in my brain the way it works is it has opened up for everyone. Because if you really roll it back, okay, companies now we're learning...we used to call it several years ago UGC, User Generated Content. And now a lot of people are like, okay, if you're on Facebook, you're the product, right? Or if you're on Instagram, you're the product. And they're using you, and you're using your data to sell, et cetera, et cetera.
But user-generated content it's always been that. It's just a matter of the sharing of the economic. That's why I keep going back to economics. So if people were, you know, you wouldn't have to necessarily do advertising if you had stakeholders with advertising, the users and the company, as an example. If it's a social media company, just throwing it out there, so let's say you have a social media...and this has been talked about, but I'm not the first to introduce this. This has been talked about for over ten years, at least over 15 years.
And it's you share as a triangle in three ways. So you have the user and everything else. So take your current social media, and I won't pick on Facebook, but I'll just use them, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Twitter's having issues recently because Elon is trying to buy them or get out of buying them. But you just looked at that data, and then you share with the user base. What's the revenue model? And there needs to be one; let me be very clear. There has to be incentive, and there has to be profitability for people that joined you earlier, you know, joined the corporation, or become shareholders, or investors, or become users, or become customers.
They have to be able to have some benefit, not extreme greater than everyone else but a great benefit from coming in earlier by what they contributed at the time. And that is what makes this system holistic in my opinion, like Reddit or any of these bloggers. But you make it where they use their time and the users, and you share it with the company and then the data and so forth, and whatever revenue economic model you have, and it's a sort of a three-way split. It's just not always equal.
And that's something that I think in economics, we're still on a zero-sum game, I win, you lose sort of economic model globally. That's why there's a winner of a war and a loser of a war. But in reality, as you know, Victoria, there are no winners of any war. So it's funny, [laughs] I was just saying, well, you know, because of the economic mode, but Von Neumann, who talked about that, also talked about something called a non-zero-sum game when he talked about it in mathematics that you can win, and I can win; we just don't win equally because they never will match that.
So if I win, I may win 60; you win 40. Or you may win 60, I win 40, and we agree to settle on that. It's an agreement versus I'm just going to be 99, and you'll be 1%, or I'm just going to be 100, and you're at 0. And I think that our economic model tends to be a lot of that, like, when you push forth and there needs to be more of that.
When you talk about the core of economics...and I go way back, you know, prior to the Federal Reserve even being started. I just look at the world, and it's always sort of been this land territorial issue of what goods are under the country. But we've got technology where we can mitigate a lot of things and do the collective of help the earth, and then let's go off to space, all of space. That's where my brain is focused on.
VICTORIA: Hmm. Oh yeah, that makes sense to me. I think that we're all going to have to evolve our economic models here in the future. I wonder, too, as you're building your startup and you're building your company, what are some of the technology trade-offs you're having to make in the stack of the AI software that you're building?
LEONARD: Hmm. Good question. But clarify, this may be a lot deeper dive because that's a general question. And I don't want to...yeah, go ahead.
VICTORIA: Because when you're building AI, and you're going to be processing a lot of data, I know many data scientists that are familiar with tools like Jupyter Notebooks, and R, and Python. And one issue that I'm aware of is keeping the environments the same, so everything that goes into building your app and having those infrastructure as code for your data science applications, being able to afford to process all that data. [laughs]
And there are just so many factors that go into building an AI app versus building something that's more easy, like a web-based user form. So just curious if you've encountered those types of trade-offs or questions about, okay, how are we going to actually build an app that we can put out on everybody's phone and that works responsibly?
LEONARD: Oh, okay. So let me be very clear, but I won't give too much of the secret sauce away. But I can define this technically because this is a technical audience. This is not...so what you're really talking about is two things, and I'm clear about this, though. So the app maker won't really read and write a lot of data. It'll just be the app where people could just get on board digitalization simple, you know, process payments, maybe connect with someone like American Express square, MasterCard, whatever. And so that's just letting them function. That's sort of small FinTech in my mind, you know, just transaction A to B, B to A, et cetera.
And it doesn't need to be peer-to-peer and all of the crypto. It doesn't even need to go that level yet. That's just level one. Then they will sign up for a service, which is because we're really focused on artificial intelligence as a service. And that, to me, is the next iteration for AI. I've been talking about this for about three or four years now, literally, in different conferences and so forth for people who haven't hit it. But that we will get to that point where AI will become AI as a service, just like SaaS is.
We're still at the, you know, most of the world on the legacy systems are still software as a service. We're about to hit AI as a service because the world is evolving. And this is true; they did shut it down. But you did have okay, so there are two case points which I can bring up. So JP Morgan did create something called a Coin, and it was using AI. And it was a coin like crypto, coin like a token, but they called it a coin.
But it could process, I think, something like...I may be off on this, so to the sticklers that will be listening, please, I'm telling you I may be off on the exact quote, but I think it was about...it was something crazy to me, like 200,000 of legal hours and seconds that it could process because it was basically taking the corporate legal structure of JP Morgan, one of the biggest banks. I think they are the biggest bank in the U.S. JPMorgan Chase.
And they were explaining in 2017 how we created this, and it's going to alleviate this many hours of legal work for the bank. And I think politically; something happened because they just pulled away. I still have the original press release when they put it out, and it was in the media. And then it went away. I mean, no implementation [laughs] because I think there was going to be a big loss of jobs for it. And they basically would have been white-collar legal jobs, most specifically lawyers literally that were working for the bank.
And when they were talking towards investment, it was a committee. I was at a conference. And I was like, I was fascinated by that. And they were basically using Bitcoin protocol as the tokenization protocol, but they were using AI to process it. And it was basically looking at...because legal contracts are basically...you can teach it with natural language processing and be able to encode and almost output it itself and then be able to speak with each other.
Another case point was Facebook. They had...what was it? Two AI systems. They began to create their own language. I don't know if you remember that story or heard about it, and Facebook shut it down. And this was more like two years ago, I think, when they were saying Facebook was talking, you know, when they were Facebook, not Meta, so maybe it was three years ago. And they were talking, and they were like, "Oh, Facebook has a language. It's talking to each other." And it created its own little site language because it was two AI bots going back and forth. And then the engineers at Facebook said, "We got to shut this down because this is kind of getting out of the box."
So when you talk about AI as a service, yes, the good and the bad, and what you take away is AWS, Oracle, Google Cloud they do have services where it doesn't need to cost you as much anymore as it used to in the beginning if you know what you're doing ahead of time. And you're not just running iterations or data processing because you're doing guesswork versus, in my opinion, versus actually knowing exactly specifically what you're looking for and the data set you're looking to get out of it.
And then you're talking about just basically putting in containers and clustering it because it gets different operations. And so what you're really looking at is something called an N-scale graph data that can process data in maybe sub seconds at that level, excuse me. And one of my advisors is the head of that anyway at AGI laboratory. So he's got an N graph database that can process...when we implement it, we'll be able to process data at the petabyte level at sub-seconds, and it can run on platforms like Azure or AWS, and so forth.
VICTORIA: Oh, that's interesting. So it sounds like cloud providers are making compute services more affordable. You've got data, the N-scale graph data, that can run more transactions more quickly. And I'm curious if you see any future trends since I know you're a futurist around quantum computing and how that could affect capacity for --
LEONARD: Oh [laughs] We haven't even gotten there yet. Yes. Well, if you look at N-scale, if you know what you're doing and you know what to look for, then the quantum just starts going across different domains as well but at a higher hit rate. So there's been some quantum computers online. There's been several...well, Google has their quantum computer coming online, and they've been working on it, and Google has enough data, of course, to process. So yeah, they've got that data, lots of data. And quantum needs, you know, if it's going to do something, it needs lots of data.
But then the inference will still be, I think, quantum is very good at processing large, large, large amounts of data. We can just keep going if you really have a good quantum computer. But it's really narrow. You have to tell it exactly what it wants, and it will do it in what we call...which is great like in P or NP square or P over NP which is you want to do it in polynomial time, not non-polynomial, polynomial time which is...now speaking too fast. Okay, my brain is going faster than my lips. Let me slow it down.
So when you start thinking about processing, if we as humans, let's say if I was going to process A to Z, and I'm like, okay, here is this equation, if I tell you it takes 1000 years, it's of no use to us, to me and you Victoria because we're living now. Now, the earth may benefit in 1000 years, but it's still of no use. But if I could take this large amount of data and have it process within minutes, you know, worst case hours...but then I'll even go down to seconds or sub-seconds, then that's really a benefit to humanity now, today in present term.
And so, as a futurist, yes, as the world, we will continue to add data. We're doing it every day, and we already knew this was coming ten years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, even actually in the '50s when we were in the AI winter. We're now in AI summer. In my words, I call it the AI summer. So as you're doing this, that data is going to continue to increase, and quantum will be needed for that. But then the specific need...quantum is very good at looking at a specific issue, specifically for that very narrow.
Like if you were going to do the trajectory to Jupiter or if we wanted to send a probe to Jupiter or something, I think we're sending something out there now from NASA, and so forth, then you need to process all the variables, but it's got one trajectory. It's going one place only.
VICTORIA: Gotcha. Well, that's so interesting. I'm glad I asked you that question. And speaking of rockets going off to space, have you ever seen a SpaceX launch from LA?
LEONARD: Actually, I saw one land but not a launch. I need to go over there. It's not too far from me. But you got to give credit where credit's due and Elon has a reusable rocket. See, that's where technology is solving real-world problems. Because NASA and I have, you know, my chairman, his name is Alexander Nawrocki, you know, he's Ph.D., but I call him Rocki. He goes by Rocki like I go by LS.
But it's just we talk about this like NASA's budget. [laughs] How can you reduce this? And Elon says they will come up with a reusable rocket that won't cost this much and be able to...and that's the key. That was the kind of Holy Grail where you can reuse the same rocket itself and then add some little variables on top of it. But the core, you wouldn't constantly be paying for it.
And so I think where the world is going...and let me be clear, Elon pushes a lot out there. He's just very good at it. But I'm also that kind of guy that I know that Tesla itself was started by two Stanford engineers. Elon came on later, like six months, and then he invested, and he became CEO, which was a great investment for Elon Musk.
And then CEO I just think it just fit his personality because it was something he loved. But I also have studied for years Nikola Tesla, and I understand what his contributions created where we are today with all the patents that he had. And so he's basically the father of WiFi and why we're able to communicate in a lot of this. We've perfected it or improved it, but it was created by him in the 1800s.
VICTORIA: Right. And I don't think he came from as fortunate a background as Elon Musk, either. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done born in similar circumstances. [laughter] And you certainly have made quite a name for yourself.
LEONARD: Well, I'm just saying, yeah, he came from very...he did come from a poor area of Russia which is called the Russian territory, to be very honest, Eastern Europe, definitely Eastern Europe. But yeah, I don't know once you start thinking about that [laughs]. You're making me laugh, Victoria. You're making me laugh.
VICTORIA: No, I actually went camping, a backpacking trip to the Catalina Island, and there happened to be a SpaceX launch that night, and we thought it was aliens because it looked wild. I didn't realize what it was. But then we figured it was a launch, so it was really great. I love being here and being close to some of this technology and the advancements that are going on.
I'm curious if you have some thoughts about...I hear a lot about or you used to hear about Silicon Valley Tech like very Northern California, San Francisco focus. But what is the difference in SoCal? What do you find in those two communities that makes SoCal special? [laughs]
LEONARD: Well, I think it's actually...so democratizing AI. I've been in a moment like that because, in 2015, I was in Dubai, and they were talking about creating silicon oasis. And so there's always been this model of, you know, because they were always, you know, the whole Palo Alto thing is people would say it and it is true. I mean, I experienced it. Because I was in a two-year program, post-graduate program executive, but we would go up there...I wasn't living up there. I had to go there maybe once every month for like three weeks, every other month or something.
But when you're up there, it is the air in the water. It's just like, people just breathe certain things. Because around the world, and I would travel to Japan, and China, and other different parts of Asia, Vietnam, et cetera and in Africa of course, and let's say you see this and people are like, so what is it about Silicon Valley? And of course, the show, there is the Hollywood show about it, which is pretty a lot accurate, which is interesting, the HBO show.
But you would see that, and you would think, how are they able to just replicate this? And a lot of it is a convergence. By default, they hear about these companies' access because the key is access, and that's what we're...like this podcast. I love the concept around it because giving awareness, knowledge, and access allows other people to spread it and democratize it. So it's just not one physical location, or you have to be in that particular area only to benefit. I mean, you could benefit in that area, or you could benefit from any part of the world.
But since they started, people would go there; engineers would go there. They built company PCs, et cetera. Now that's starting to spread in other areas like Southern Cal are creating their own innovation hubs to be able to bring all three together. And those three are the engineers and founders, and idea makers and startups. And you then need the expertise. I'm older than 42; I'm not 22. [laughs] So I'm just keeping it 100, keeping it real. So I'm not coming out at 19. I mean, my son's 18. And I'm not coming out, okay, this my new startup, bam, give me a billion dollars, I'm good. And let me just write off the next half.
But when you look at that, there's that experience because even if you look at Mark Zuckerberg, I always tell people that give credit where credit is due. He brought a senior team with him when he was younger, and he didn't have the experience. And his only job has been Facebook out of college. He's had no other job. And now he's been CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation; that's a fact. Sometimes it hurts people's feelings. Like, you know what? He's had no other job. Now that can be good and bad, [laughs] but he's had no other jobs.
And so that's just a credit, like, if you can surround yourself with the right people and be focused on something, it can work to the good or the bad for your own personal success but then having that open architecture. And I think he's been trying to learn and others versus like an Elon Musk, who embraces everything. He's just very open in that sense. But then you have to come from these different backgrounds.
But let's say Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, let's take a guy like myself or whatever who didn't grow up with all of that who had to make these two ends meet, figure out how to do the next day, not just get to the next year, but get to the next day, get to the next week, get to the next month, then get to the next year. It just gives a different perspective as well. Humanity's always dealing with that.
Because we had a lot of great engineers back in the early 1900s. They're good or bad, you know, you did have Nikola Tesla. You had Edison. I'm talking about circa around 1907 or 1909, prior to World War I. America had a lot of industries. They were the innovators then, even though there were innovations happening in Europe, and Africa, and China, as well and Asia. But the innovation hub kind of created as the America, quote, unquote, "industrial revolution." And I think we're about to begin a new revolution sort of tech and an industrial revolution that's going to take us to maybe from 20...we're 2022 now, but I'll say it takes us from 2020 to 2040 in my head.
VICTORIA: So now that communities can really communicate across time zones and locations, maybe the hubs are more about solving specific problems. There are regional issues. That makes a lot more sense.
LEONARD: Yes. And collaborating together, working together, because scientists, you know, COVID taught us that. People thought you had to be in a certain place, but then a lot of collaboration came out of COVID; even though it was bad globally, even though we're still bad, if people were at home, they start collaborating, and scientists will talk to scientists, you know, businesses, entrepreneurs, and so forth.
But if Orange County is bringing together the mentors, the venture capital, or at least Southern California innovation and any other place, I want to say that's not just Silicon Valley because Silicon Valley already has it; we know that. And that's that region. It's San Jose all the way up to...I forgot how far north it's past San Francisco, actually. But it's that region of area where they encompass the real valley of Silicon Valley if you're really there. And you talk about these regions.
Yes, I think we're going to get to a more regional growth area, and then it'll go more micro to actually cities later in the future. But regional growth, I think it's going to be extremely important globally in the very near term. I'm literally saying from tomorrow to the next, maybe ten years, regional will really matter. And then whatever you have can scale globally anyway, like this podcast we're doing. This can be distributed to anyone in the world, and they can listen at ease when they have time.
VICTORIA: Yeah, I love it. It's both exciting and also intimidating. [laughs] And you mentioned your son a little bit earlier. And I'm curious, as a founder and someone who spent a good amount of time in graduate and Ph.D. programs, if you feel like it's easy to connect with your son and maintain that balance and focusing on your family while you're building a company and investing in yourself very heavily.
LEONARD: Well, I'm older, [laughs] so it's okay. I mean, I've mentored him, you know. And me and his mom have a relationship that works. I would say we have a better relationship now than when we were together. It is what it is. But we have a communication level. And I think she was just a great person because I never knew my real father, ever. I supposedly met him when I was two or one; I don't know. But I have no memories, no photos, nothing. And that was just the environment I grew up in.
But with my son, he knows the truth of everything about that. He's actually in college. I don't like to name the school because it's on the East Coast, and it's some Ivy League school; that's what I will say. And he didn't want to stay on the West Coast because I'm in Orange County and his mom's in Orange County. He's like, "I want to get away from both of you people." [laughter] And that's a joke, but he's very independent. He's doing well. When he graduated high school, he graduated with 4.8 honors. He made the valedictorian. He was at a STEM school.
LEONARD: And he has a high GPA. He's studying computer science and economics as well at an Ivy League, and he's already made two or three apps at college. And I said, "You're not Mark, so calm down." [laughter] But anyway, that was a recent conversation. I won't go there. But then some people say, "LS, you should be so happy." What is it? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
But this was something he chose around 10 or 11. I'm like, whatever you want to do, you do; I'll support you no matter what. And his mom says, "Oh no, I think you programmed him to be like you." [laughs] I'm like, no, I can't do that. I just told him the truth about life. And he's pretty tall.
VICTORIA: You must have --
LEONARD: He played basketball in high school a lot. I'm sorry?
VICTORIA: I was going to say you must have inspired him.
LEONARD: Yeah. Well, he's tall. He did emulate me in a lot of ways. I don't know why. I told him just be yourself. But yes, he does tell me I'm an inspiration to that; I think because of all the struggles I've gone through when I was younger. And you're always going through struggles. I mean, it's just who you are. I tell people, you know, you're building a company. You have success. You can see the future, but sometimes people can't see it, [laughs] which I shouldn't really say, but I'm saying anyway because I do that.
I said this the other night to some friends. I said, "Oh, Jeff Bezo's rocket blew up," going, you know, Blue Origin rocket or something. And then I said Elon will tell Jeff, "Well, you only have one rocket blow up. I had three, [laughter] SpaceX had three." So these are billionaires talking to billionaires about, you know, most people don't even care. You're worth X hundred billion dollars. I mean, they're worth 100 billion-plus, right?
LEONARD: I think Elon is around 260 billion, and Jeff is 160 or something. Who cares about your rocket blowing up? But it's funny because the issues are still always going to be there. I've learned that. I'm still learning. It doesn't matter how much wealth you have. You just want to create wealth for other people and better their lives. The more you search on bettering lives, you're just going to have to wake up every day, be humble with it, and treat it as a new day and go forward and solve the next crisis or problem because there will be one.
There is not where there are no problems, is what I'm trying to say, this panacea or a utopia where you personally, like, oh yeah, I have all this wealth and health, and I'm just great. Because Elon has had divorce issues, so did Jeff Bezos. So I told my son a lot about this, like, you never get to this world where it's perfect in your head. You're always going to be doing things.
VICTORIA: That sounds like an accurate future prediction if I ever heard one. [laughs] Like, there will be problems. No matter where you end up or what you choose to do, you'll still have problems. They'll just be different. [laughs]
LEONARD: Yeah, and then this is for women and men. It means you don't give up. You just keep hope alive, and you keep going. And I believe personally in God, and I'm a scientist who actually does. But I look at it more in a Godly aspect. But yeah, I just think you just keep going, and you keep building because that's what we do as humanity. It's what we've done. It's why we're here. And we're standing on the shoulders of giants, and I just always considered that from physicists and everyone.
VICTORIA: Great. And if people are interested in building something with you, you have that opportunity right now to invest via the crowdfunding app, correct?
LEONARD: Yes, yes, yes. They can do that because the company is still the same company because eventually, we're going to branch out. My complete vision for AIEDC is using artificial intelligence for economic development, and that will spread horizontally, not just vertically. Vertically right now, just focus on just a mobile app maker digitization and get...because there are so many businesses even globally, and I'm not talking only e-commerce.
So when I say small to midsize business, it can be a service business, car insurance, health insurance, anything. It doesn't have to be selling a particular widget or project, you know, product. And I'm not saying there's nothing wrong with that, you know, interest rates and consumerism. But I'm not thinking about Shopify, and that's fine, but I'm talking about small businesses. And there's the back office which is there are a lot of tools for back offices for small businesses.
But I'm talking about they create their own mobile app more as a way to communicate with their customers, update them with their customers, and that's key, especially if there are disruptions. So let's say that there have been fires in California. In Mississippi or something, they're out of water. In Texas, last year, they had a winter storm, electricity went out. So all of these things are disruptions. This is just in the U.S.,
And of course, I won't even talk about Pakistan, what's going on there and the flooding and just all these devastating things, or even in China where there's drought where there are these disruptions, and that's not counting COVID disrupts, the cycle of business. It literally does. And it doesn't bubble up until later when maybe the central banks and governments pay attention to it, just like in Japan when that nuclear, unfortunately, that nuclear meltdown happened because of the earthquake; I think it was 2011.
And that affected that economy for five years, which is why the government has lower interest rates, negative interest rates, because they have to try to get it back up. But if there are tools and everyone's using more mobile apps and wearables...and we're going to go to the metaverse and all of that. So the internet of things can help communicate that. So when these types of disruptions happen, the flow of business can continue, at least at a smaller level, for an affordable cost for the business. I'm not talking about absorbing costs because that's meaningless to me.
VICTORIA: Yeah, well, that sounds like a really exciting project. And I'm so grateful to have this time to chat with you today. Is there anything else you want to leave for our listeners?
LEONARD: If they want to get involved, maybe they can go to our crowdfunding page, or if they've got questions, ask about it and spread the word. Because I think sometimes, you know, they talk about the success of all these companies, but a lot of it starts with the founder...but not a founder. If you're talking about a startup, it starts with the founder.
But it also stops with the innovators that are around that founder, male or female, whoever they are. And it also starts with their community, building a collective community together. And that's why Silicon Valley is always looked at around the world as this sort of test case of this is how you create something from nothing and make it worth great value in the future. And I think that's starting to really spread around the world, and more people are opening up to this. It's like the crowdfunding concept.
I think it's a great idea, like more podcasts. I think this is a wonderful idea, podcasts in and of themselves, so people can learn from people versus where in the past you would only see an interview on the business news network, or NBC, or Fortune, or something like that, and that's all you would understand. But this is a way where organically things can grow. I think the growth will continue, and I think the future's bright. We just have to know that it takes work to get there.
VICTORIA: That's great. Thank you so much for saying that and for sharing your time with us today. I learned a lot myself, and I think our listeners will enjoy it as well.
You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg.
This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening. See you next time.
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